Brigadier General Hassan Shateri, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF), was assassinated in Syria on February 13, 2013. It appears that he had been in Aleppo and was killed while returning through Damascus to Beirut. It seems likely that the assassin was a member of the Syrian opposition operating at the behest of Israel; Tehran is certainly convinced that this is the case. The evidence available at this time suggests that his assassination reflects a change in Israel’s willingness to target senior Iranian officials who are in-country providing military support to the Assad regime. Shateri’s killing is a notable escalation in regional tensions that will very likely generate Iranian retaliation.
The response of Iran’s senior leaders to Shateri’s killing demonstrates both his rank and his personal importance. Major General Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force commander and mastermind of Iranian strategy in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and the Persian Gulf, personally delivered the news of Shateri’s death to his family and wept at his memorial ceremony. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei invited Shateri’s family to his home to console them. Shateri is the senior-most member of the Quds Force known to have been killed outside of Iran in the organization’s three-decade history. He had deep connections with Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran’s global force projection network. His death is a serious blow to the Quds Force, and his very presence in northern Syria shows the depth of Iran’s involvement in that conflict.
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